Photographing the Moon with a Nikon d7000 Step-by-Step

Supermoon, June 21, 2013, Cocoa Beach, Florida.  F13 Iso1000 1/120, 400mm on tripod.

Supermoon, June 21, 2013, Cocoa Beach, Florida. F13 Iso1000 1/120, 400mm on tripod.

I’ve never written a technical tutorial before, but I’m about to give it a try.  So, here is my tutorial on how to photograph the moon with a Nikon D7000.

This tutorial will focus solely on photographing the moon, not any landscape near or around it.  This is a beginner tutorial by me, an amateur photographer who couldn’t find anything like this online.  If you’re like me, you have this amazing camera, and you don’t know what half the buttons and functions do, but you my friend, are likely about to be schooled on the amazingness of the Nikon d7000.

First, Lets go over what you need to replicate my results:

  • A Sturdy Tripod,  or a place to set your camera that doesn’t shake, at all.
  • Your trusty Nikon d 7000 and a lens.   You will be needing a telescopic lens to replicate my results in your camera.  I used a Nikon Nikkor 80-400mm VR.
  • Dk-5 Eyepiece Cap – It came with your camera, look in the box.  If you don’t have this, you can cover the viewfinder with a dark paper
  • A dark sky, a bright moon, and a flashlight.  Plus some mosquito spray if you live anywhere near the mosquito states.

How to prepare your camera:

Your Nikon d7000 has some ridiculously awesome functions we are about to delve into.  Be prepared.

  1. Start by checking your battery and making sure your memory cards are ready. Clean your lenses.  I’m not going to go over this.  If you don’t know how, you may need to start with the uber basics before trying this!
  2. Begin by setting your camera to Manual Mode  (You should have your lens attached, or a cap on)
  3. If you shoot in RAW, keep your setting, if you shoot in JPG, you want to be on Fine Setting.
  4. Turn your Shutter Speed to 1/200 using the back spinner (the one where your thumb is)
  5. Adjust the F stop to 13 by using spinner on the front  (where your index finger is)
  6. Adjust the ISO to 1000 by pushing the ISO button (on the left side of the viewfinder) and adjusting the right spinner by your thumb again simultaneously.
  7. Turn on the Timer (That’s on the top left, lower spinner, it looks like a clock. Ideally you want to use the MUp (that’s mirror lock up) function and a remote, but my remote battery was dead.
  8. Turn on bracketing (that’s on the left side, it says BKt (under the flash button) I set mine at 3F 1, I should do this again at 3F .3 I think. This control allows your camera to ake any number of photos at different exposures at almost exactly the same time as your settings.
  9. Now we are going to save these settings, go to your viewfinder controls by pressing Menu: Go to the Wrench, and then to Save Settings, choose either U1 or U2. We are doing this so that if you forget ( or ruin) your settings, you can go here and have somewhere to start. Turn your camera off.
  10. If at some point in the dark, being eaten by mosquitos, trying not to tip over your tripod you royally mess up, you can go back to this setting (U1 if you chose it) and it will recall these settings for you.
  11. Remove the eyepiece cup by sliding it up and off.
  12. We are almost there!

Attach your camera to the tripod if you are using one.  This is super important to double check.  If you haven’t done this properly your camera is at risk falling to an untimely death.

  1. Take your flashlight, grab your tripod, grab your Dk-5 and head outside.  It should be dark, the moon should be big, hopefully you won’t be eaten by mosquitos or alligators, or any other critters.
  2. Set your tripod up so that its nice and even or balance out your camera and lens.
  3. Turn your camera on and use the viewfinder to focus the moon where you want it in the picture.
  4. Be careful not to move the camera, and attach the Dk5 to your viewfinder.
  5. Remember that your timer is on, and press the shutter release, it is going to take a few seconds, so don’t mess with anything until you hear it click, three times, and photos show up.
  6. You did it, take a look at what the result is, make small adjustments on the f-stop and speed until you have what you want.
  7. When you go to look at these photos, you will have three taken at nearly the same moment with different exposures, you can merge these, create an HDR, or simply choose the best.
  8. After you’ve taken a moment to bask in the moonlit glory of your efforts, come back here and post a link in the comments!

Thanks for reading my post.  Please feel free to correct things and ask me questions!

I adjusted my photo with photoshop since I apparently overexposed with the original.  I also had to crop it to keep it from looking like a little moon on a black background. Tommorow night is the beginning of the real supermoon, and I’m going to try to add a little landscape in.  🙂

2 thoughts on “Photographing the Moon with a Nikon d7000 Step-by-Step

  1. Nice job on your tutorial. It was good to mention the battery because its commonly overlooked. Using the spot meter can help zero in on exposure if your not getting the results you want. Happy shooting! Don’t get ate by any critters. I don’t think I will be able to get any shots tonight. I hope you get some good ones.

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